For much of 2018, infernos have raged throughout California. The current wildfire season is the most destructive ever on state record; so far this year, over 1.6 million acres of land have burned. Beginning in early November, the Camp and Woolsey Fires have since claimed 71 lives, consumed more than 10,000 residencies, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands. Both fires have yet to be fully contained, and the damage toll remains on the rise.
Following tragedy, many feel the need to help, and victims of the California wildfires could certainly use a hand. In cases of natural disaster, monetary donations are almost always more valuable than a shipment of unsolicited items. Sticking to cash will avoid overwhelming relief organizations with a surplus of goods that workers must divert time and attention to sort through.
Organizations may occasionally request specific supplies; in such cases, most will post a list on their websites laying out what is needed. Donors looking to clarify exactly where their money is going may also want to research a charity’s reputation and objectives prior to cutting a check.
Below are a few links to nonprofit groups collecting to assist those affected by the recent wildfires.
- American Red Cross: Red Cross volunteers have partnered with local and state-run evacuation centers, where they are providing food, shelter, mental health counseling and missing person tracking services to wildfire survivors.
- California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: Since 2003, the relief fund has raised more than $5 million in support of recovery efforts. The money covers a range of basic needs, including assistance with the cost of lost belongings, home buying and building, medical care, employment grants, and more.
- California Fire Foundation: the Foundation’s SAVE (Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency) program aims to distribute direct financial assistance to people coping with severe losses in wake of the Camp and Woolsey Fires.
- Caring Choices: Caring Choices is collecting applications for volunteers, as well as item and service donations. The organization is accepting applications for medical professionals, as well as those willing to provide temporary housing, animal care, or equipment storage.
- Entertainment Industry Foundation: This organization sponsors the SoCal Fire Relief Fund, which is accepting donations to aid first responders. The fund also supports the relief efforts of The Los Angeles Fire Department, LA Kitchen, and the Humane Society of Ventura County.
- North Valley Community Foundation: The Community Foundation is supplying funds to ensure evacuation centers are properly outfitted to handle the influx of shelter seekers. In addition to covering utility costs, donations help supply portable toilets and showers, blankets, and other necessities.
- United Way of Greater Los Angeles/Northern California: United Way’s California branches are raising funds to offer localized assistance to low-income residents and others whose homes have suffered damage.
Other initiatives include crowdsourcing site GoFundMe’s list of wildfire relief campaigns, a collection for the Center For Disaster Philanthropy sponsored by Google, and Airbnb’s Open Homes program, where volunteers can sign up to offer temporary housing to those displaced by the fires.